December 11, 2012

dear elliot: a labor of love

"We worked so hard to get you here."

Those were your daddy's first words to you, and they were spoken through choked back tears. He was right. That moment when the midwife said "Grab your baby!" and I reached down into the water to scoop you into my was hard-earned.

We prayed for you. Our hearts ached for you, before we knew you would one day be ours. I cried, night after night, wondering why God had given my heart such a longing for motherhood, if His plan was not to fulfill that desire.

I think God made my heart ache for you, because He knew you Elliot. He knew you before you had even come to be. He knew you, and the beautiful story He had planned for you. And so He didn't take that ache from my heart.

So we prayed. And then we stepped forward in faith. And we worked so hard to get you here.

I was sick for the entire pregnancy, Elliot. But God provided. Every single morning, I woke up and said "I can't do this." And God said, "My strength is made perfect in your weakness."

Every night, I fell asleep fearful that something was going to happen to you. And God said "In quietness and trust will you find strength."

We worked hard, Elliot...but it was not truly of us. It was a labor of trust, a labor of daily submitting our story to the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

And now, when we hold you in our arms, we marvel at the blessing of your story unfolding before us, and still, we labor. Every day, we strive to submit our hopes and fears, our triumphs and failures, our weaknesses and strengths, to Jesus.

Someday all too soon, you will be leaving home. And your daddy will hold my hand, and we will both know in our hearts those same words, spoken through tears...we worked so hard to get you here. But we will know, in that moment, that it wasn't our work or striving that wrote your story. He is the One who is writing your story. And we are so blessed to be a part of whatever He has in store for your life.

December 10, 2012

bringing heaven to earth: barefoot children

As a new mom, I have been trying to think through the type of life I want to lead, what priorities I want to guard within our home. I don't want my children growing up hearing about how they need to be good to make Jesus happy. They don't need to work for His approval. What I want is for my daughter to grow up in love with Jesus' heart for the lost, and the plan that God set forth from the beginning...a plan to right the wrong, to bring healing to the broken, to make all things new. He is bringing Heaven to Earth, and we are so blessed to be a part of it.

The city where I currently reside is considered one of the top 10 cities in America to raise a family. And yet, recently in the church-wide women's Bible study I attend, there was an announcement made that children in several elementary schools have been walking to school barefoot. It's December. And it's quite likely that if these children do not have shoes, then they do not have coats or hats either.

As a former teacher in a school with much poverty, I can attest to the fact that if a child does not have their basic needs met, they cannot focus on school work. Meeting the basic needs of a child not only serves them as they walk to school, but also serves them by helping them learn so that they can continue on to graduate high school and build a life for themselves.

Beyond that, I have noticed an attitude among the wealthy high school student population in this city that considers the high school where these elementary schools feed into "the ghetto". Many of these students have been raised in Christian families. What saddens me most about this is the lack of compassion and the misunderstanding projected on these students. I wonder where these affluent students would be if they had grown up walking to school barefoot in the snow?

Teaching at a school where poverty is high and family lives are complicated and stressful is also a very challenging task. Often I found myself feeling like I had no more options. I couldn't get a hold of parents. I didn't know how to reach the students. Every story, every family situation, was so complex and different.

If you know a teacher who is working at a school like this, I can guarantee it would do such wonderful things for their hearts (and their stamina!) if you were to check in with them to see if there is any way you can help!

And if you want to help the students, I know that shoes, hats, scarves, coats...any clothing item that YOUR child needs for school would probably be a lovely gift for a student who is struggling.

In the end, as believers, I think it is important for us to remember that it isn't the governments job to take care of the poor. Whatever you believe about taxes, whatever bitterness you might harbor towards the cycle of poverty and homelessness, those are issues for you to work through. But in the end, the final truth is that God called US as His Body to take care of orphans, widows, and the poor.

It's time for us to stop making excuses and start investing in the lives of the people who need to know that God is the God who sees, provides, and protects.

December 5, 2012

on grieving: motherhood

Every night, I sit in the rocking chair in our bedroom while I feed Elliot, and we talk about our day. We read a book. I sing her a song – usually Great is Thy Faithfulness – and then I tell her a story about my mom.

I tell her about how much Grandma Arlene loved to play piano. I tell her about baking Christmas cookies, dancing in the kitchen, being home-schooled. I share memories that I haven't shared with anyone else, and stories that I hope will settle into her heart and stay there forever. And I do mean forever. Because I also tell her about heaven, and how someday we will all sit together and retell these stories and laugh and cry and finally we will be “us”. Grandma, mommy and daughter.

I knew that this season would bring a new ache to my heart. I knew that motherhood would make me miss my mommy. But honestly, I didn't know. I didn't know how it would feel when I nursed my baby in the dark, sang my mother's favorite hymn to her, and prayed over her the same way my mom prayed over me. I knew my heart would ache...but I didn't realize that this would be an ache that filled every moment of motherhood.

This is an ache that goes with me everywhere, like it was when she first died. In that first year, everything reminded me of her or made me miss her – grocery shopping, putting on makeup, eating Onion rings, playing piano, shopping for school clothes...that's the problem with doing everything with someone. When they're gone, everything reminds you of them. Therefore, every single moment of the day hurts.

That's how it is now. Everything new that this little baby does, I think how I wish I could call and tell her. She burped! She cooed! She pooped! She's not pooping! She's smiling! I can still hear her laughter, her cheerful voice, the joy that she found in the little moments, and how amazing she was at making the ordinary feel like a celebration. That's who my mom was. She loved in a way that made sharing the little things so special. And so I miss her with every little celebration, every little happening.

I see her everywhere. I feel her absence, and I ache, and I pray. I pray for this baby girl that I hold in my arms. I pray that God will redeem what has been lost. I pray that I can live with joy and savor every year, every day, every minute with this daughter, with gratitude for a mother who modeled this type of living, and gave me more in 15 years of knowing me as her daughter than some daughters experience in a lifetime.

December 3, 2012


elliot kaylene 
born october 3, 2012
7 pounds 11 ounces
20.5 inches long
my favorite baby ever. 

one day old
4 weeks old
5 weeks old
7 weeks old

maternity pics - 36 weeks (Labor Day, 2012)

photography by Jared Goertzen at